Above the Bar – STOP Marketing!

For heaven’s sake please stop using these marketing programs that promise they will show you how to pack your venue in 10 easy steps!!!!!

Bringing in new customers into your venue that is already failing and not able to retain existing customers is not going to work.

If you had cancer and put a Band-Aid on it would you be cured? NO! So why are so many bar and club owners lured into these get rich quick and easy marketing programs? First off if you have cancer, the only sure way to get rid of it is to cut it out from the inside.

So if your venue is not busy and you believe that by bribing customers with Free incentive programs, giveaways, rewards programs, coupons, social media blitz’s or any other traffic driven program is going to work then go ahead and do it. But remember this, the cancer is still there and you are throwing good money after bad. The only good customer is a repeat customer! You should be using these programs to push your business over the top increasing your top and bottom line. Many of these programs including Happy Hour should be also used to drive early or off peak hour’s traffic.

Let’s begin with the problem, something is wrong internally, so you need to investigate what is the issue.

Plan of Attack
1.    Gather information
2.    The problem always begins with leadership “That means ownership, not managers”
3.    Send in secret shoppers “Get an outside opinion”
4.    Give a survey out to your staff “Ask the hard questions and let the staff remain anonymous”
5.    Give a survey out to your existing customers “Ask the hard questions and let the customers remain anonymous”
6.    Mandatory customer comment cards with a locked drop box at the exit (Dear Customer, please help us to make you happy. fill this out and drop it in the box up front, Thank you!”
7.    Check online reviews and resolve the issues and respond to the reviewer asking them to give you a second chance.
8.    Get organized! “create training programs, customer expectation’s policies, time based service protocols, mandatory greetings and most important have lots of staff and management meetings to gather and share information”
9.    Create Steps of Service Books for everything (Hostess, Kitchen Staff, Menu Items, Servers, Bussers, Managers and even Owners. Post these at every station and make sure every trainee can recite and execute these steps before hitting the floor.

Now using the information gathered you will be able to address the situations and implement solutions in order to solve the issues at hand. I would estimate that 90% of the time service, quality and consistency are the flagging issues.

What are usually the issues?
1.    Service (Fact: Great service will always override mediocre food) ie; McDonalds
2.    Consistency (10 great experiences can be ruined by 1 bad experience)
3.    Quality control (Common sense)
4.    Cleanliness (Common sense)
5.    Organization  (Policies, procedures, training, meetings)
6.    Design (look at your venue, seating, bathrooms, entryway impact, attachment points)

It is time to put into place training strategies, starting with creating positions of leadership for each staffing position such a Head server, Head of Security, Senior Host and Head Bartender rewarding them with the best shifts and maximum hours on top of a small raise in pay.

Training programs need to be implemented not only to new staff but to existing staff focusing on guest services, speed of service and general concept knowledge (ie; Food menu, Drink Menu, Bottle Menu, Upselling and including actual daily and weekly training and sampling of new items)

Customer Expectations  
1.    Immediate Greeting
2.    Good/Great Timely Service
3.    Clean and Safe Environment
4.    A Consistent Expectation of Past Experiences (ie; Consistency)
5.    Quick Drink, Order and Delivery Service
6.    Perceived and Quantifiable Value (ie:$) in exchange for Goods and Services
7.    Perceived and Quantifiable Value (ie;$) in exchange for Entertainment
8.    Concept Surroundings and Environment to meet or exceed customer expectations

You must fix the internal issues and test the changes on existing customers before you attempt to drive in new customers to your venue. Spending the time and energy on fixing these issues will pay off before you spend the time and money driving in new traffic.

Chris Lenahan